Album Review: Soulfly – “Ritual”

Bacc 2 da front

The advance word from sources close to the source was that Ritual is a return to form. Not for Soulfly specifically—despite it being a Soulfly album—but for Max Cavalera veering back to the tone, mood and timbre of classic Sepultura. Maybe the topic had already been broached by the Cavalera Conspiracy albums, but seeing as I haven’t heard any of ’em, what do I know? What I do know is that if I believed the hype about everything that comes across my desk, every album would be a genre defining, stone-cold classic worthy of a 10/10 and entry into our Hall of Fame before being released.

So, excuse me for cautiously spending the first spin through Ritual waiting to be disappointed by some tracksuit rock bullshit. But y’know what? There was hardly any of it to be had. Sweet goddamn! The title track kick-starts album number 11 with its Roots recall bolstered by a midsection reminiscent of proggy crust bands like Martyrdöd and Unkind. Holy shit! Maybe there is something to the advance word on the street.

Once deemed worthy, it was more a matter of relaxing, accepting and paying witness to the awesome down-picked Celtic Frost-meets-Metallica churn ‘n’ chug of “The Summoning” and “Evil Empowered,” how “Dead Behind the Eyes” and “Under Rapture” elevate thrash metal to where it should have gone after the Bay Area collapse, and the punk rock mayhem of “Feedback!” Guitarist Marc Rizzo lassos many of these songs with stellar lead and harmony work to impart them with greater levels of depth and interest.

It may be hard to convince those who likewise long ago pulled Soulfly from under the focus of their monocles that Cavalera is squeezing some mojo out of dem ol’ bones. But if you’re willing to discount the past—and that clumsy instrumental closer—Ritual is totally deserving of the attention.